Last October I did a post on “How to Build an Empire” where I shared my takeaways after a conversation with my daughter. It’s now been nine months since that post and she is still focused on her dream. I find this pretty amazing since she is only 13. I assumed the dream would change at least six times since that conversation.
You can read my original post here to get the full back story, but to recap, she has a dream of becoming a world famous vet. She wants to guest lecture, appear on TV, and write books. In her words, she will build an “empire”.
Since it has been nine months, I thought I would share an update on her progress. As part of our initial conversation, she concluded that she was going to need a plan if she was going to build an empire. As she began her research, she realized just how huge the world of veterinary medicine is. Her research became so overwhelming that it almost deterred her from moving forward. Like seriously, how in the world is she supposed to decide what she really wants to do within this huge field. So, instead of going into a state of panic or giving up, she decided to take action.
Here is what I watched her do.
I know I said that the research was overwhelming her. It is what she was researching that was overwhelming, not the act of researching. She decided to shift her focus from studying to doing. The only way to do that was to get involved with an organization that would expose her to vet medicine. So, she started researching ideas. She started looking at zoos and aquariums, rescue organizations, and vet clinics. Her idea was that if she could spend time volunteering she might learn enough to guide her decisions.
Experience is life’s best teacher. If you can find a way to get involved, experience will shed light on likes and dislikes, talents, and passion. These are lessons she will not be able to figure out from just surfing the Internet. But she will be able to figure out by getting her hands dirty.
- Surround yourself with the right people
Remember the guy who told us about the Turtle Survival Alliance? His information is what opened her eyes to possibilities she hadn’t considered and was the seed for her empire dream? Well, we were able to reconnect with him and he was willing to make an introduction to the team at the Turtle Survival Alliance.
The team at the Turtle Survival Alliance welcomed our daughter with open arms. She is now in the middle of a summer internship where they are exposing her to everything it takes to manage a turtle conservation organization. She spends time working with the head zookeeper to prepare diets. Sometimes those diets include Madagascar hissing cockroaches, worms, clams, and slugs. Gross! One thing that I’ve learned from this part of her internship is that my Princess certainly does not mind getting her hands dirty (see below).
She also spends time with their vet tech to observe medical procedures. She spends a lot of time maintaining habitats and doing good ol’ fashioned grunt work. And she loves every minute of it.
Besides allowing her to spend time with them, they are educating her on the different fields of study within vet medicine. They share information, they take the time to explain the “whys”, and they introduce her to others that can be helpful to her as well.
Surrounding yourself with people who are eager to support you is vital to achieving dreams. Find people who are not only willing to spend time with you but are willing to share guidance and resources.
- Adjust based upon new information
Right now she is open to trying and helping with just about anything. She knows the only way to figure out what she really wants to do is to experience the things she doesn’t like to do. As she collects more information, she can adjust her path. And the path is long. This information will determine what areas of study she will focus on and what schools she will attend. It will determine internships and where she lives. But right now, she’s not putting too much pressure on herself to get it all figured out. She knows she has a little bit of time for that to happen. Right now, she’s just enjoying the journey.
Sometimes, when you just stop thinking and allow yourself permission to experiment a little, that’s when you learn the most. We try so hard to get everything perfect the first time. We analyze, we white-board, and we flow-chart only to never take action. Its then that we get stuck and never realize our dreams.
I share these three observations because of the many women I work with who struggle to determine their next step. They are unhappy in some area of their life and can’t decide what direction to go next. So, usually that means they just stay where they are. Or, they wait for someone else to suggest the right answer. Sometimes they research different options. But then they keep researching and never take action. It’s not because they are lazy. It’s because of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of not succeeding, or fear of letting others down.
When you aren’t sure of your next step, research some options. But remember that you don’t have to determine the one perfect thing before you take any action. Just identify a couple of things that speak to you. Surround yourself with people who can be helpful. And don’t be afraid to change course if it’s not working the way you thought. Give yourself permission to experiment. You might be surprised and fulfilled by where you end up.